Feature Article – “The Blessings of Liberty Ablaze in America's Separate and Equal Station” by Peter Lillback
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler
The Blessings of Liberty Ablaze in America's Separate and Equal Station
July 4th is the fireworks-filled Anniversary of American Independence. It is also an annual opportunity to remember the firepower that was and is necessary to keep the liberty we celebrate.
So take a moment and reignite what George Washington called “the sacred fire of liberty” that flames from the God-given bond of independence and freedom. Indeed, this is the fire that is held aloft by Lady Liberty according to Emma Lazarus as she describes “The New Colossus” in New York Harbor:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
To understand this fire, we must begin with the Declaration of Independence that proclaims that America’s taking its “separate and equal station” with other nations was a carefully considered act that was consistent with “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”:
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Indeed, for the Founders the move to a separate independent existence from the United Kingdom was based on the self-evident truth that the Creator had endowed all men with unalienable rights:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And because of these God-given rights, no prince or tyrant ever has the right to take them away or force his subjects to eternal submission to the abuse of power. Indeed, God-given freedom ultimately enables a persecuted people to seek political freedom by breaking the unjust bonds of despotism and tyranny:
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, … But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, … evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. … The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. … A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
The patriots’ declaration on July 4, 1776 calling for an independence that would protect their God-given freedom was undergirded by an appeal to the righteous throne of God, the Judge of the world:
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states …
Because of “the rectitude” of the Founders’ “intentions” they remained assured of God’s providential protection:
And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
But the divine gift of freedom is not free. In a fallen world, it has required courage to maintain it. Thomas Paine wrote on September 12, 1777, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”
The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution says its purpose is to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." The Framers of the Constitution support the American Founders’ logic: independence is to secure liberty.
America’s liberty, however, has come at a dear price. The Korean War monument witnesses: “Freedom is not free.” The price of freedom is our fallen. It is written with the blood of heroes shed since the shot heard round the world to the explosions on the other side of the world in the dusty streets of Fallujah. The price of freedom is counted by the anguish of families. The price of freedom is measured by the living sacrifice of lonely heroes who came home without limbs or who bear the visible or invisible scars of war. The price of freedom is told by countless warriors’ graves, warriors who fought for the livings’ freedoms but never made it home to enjoy those freedoms themselves. The price of freedom grows daily by military service and anxious families who wait in prayer for their loved one’s safe return.
So as the last “bomb [is] bursting in air” this Fourth of July, remember the solemn tones of Taps. Ask if night has fallen and the God-given flame of liberty is going out in America or in your heart. Because God is nigh, one does not need to curse the darkness. Instead light a candle that can light a thousand more.
For found among those candles is Washington’s “sacred fire of liberty.” Shining near it is “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning.” These are ablaze with the added light of those in Flanders Fields who “to you … throw the torch,” a torch that is “yours to hold high.”
It is our turn to secure the blessings of liberty and independence for the coming generations. We must do so with the fiery passion of a patriot until
Day is done, gone the sun, From the hills, from the lake, From the skies. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Dr. Peter A. Lillback is President and Professor of Historical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary located in Philadelphia. Dr. Lillback also serves as the President of The Providence Forum, the non-profit organization that is committed to preserving and promoting America’s spiritual roots of religious and civil liberties. He just completed his service at Proclamation Presbyterian Church PCA after nearly twenty years. He is married and has two grown daughters.
Our graphic artist Ned Bustard and his wife Leslie have assembled a collection of patriotic poems for you to use while celebrating Independence Day. Each poem includes a fun activity. Click the link to access this Patriotic Poetry.
To commemorate Independence Day and the immigrant population on which our nation was built, we have a special offering, The Ellis Island Immigrant Cookbook. More than a collection of recipes from the old country, expert author Tom Bernardin packs in a lot of information, such as the story of Ellis Island, immigrant portraits, preserving oral histories, tips on tracing your family history, how to preserve a family recipe, and more.
If you place a book order in July for $200 or more, simply ask for the Immigrant Cookbook. If you place your order on our web site, you may click here or simply enter item #902165 on the Express Order page and click Add to Order. (One per family.)
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A. We agree that the Transition courses are a great way to move into the teacher-led courses. Many families start out with only one live course just to see how it will work and how much time will be required outside of class for that particular child. However, almost without exception, at registration time for the following year, they sign up for more and say they wish they had taken more that initial year. Each family is different, but we can confidently say that a majority of students thrive with multiple online courses.
Q. I just love the literature comprehension guides. Are there any new ones coming in the near future?
A. Our comprehension guide for Winnie-the-Pooh just arrived to us from the printer in May. Later this summer we look forward to a guide for The Railway Children, as well as Kindergarten Favorites Comprehension Guide, which helps young readers who need or want more reading practice.
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Omnibus III for the Convenience of International Students
We have been so pleased to welcome students from across the world into our VPSA classes. For some families, this has meant waking up early or staying up late. Consequently, we are offering two Omnibus III classes to meet scheduling needs of families from other time zones. These 9:00 p.m. Eastern classes will have an equivalent start at 5:00 p.m. in Anchorage, 4:00 p.m. in Honolulu, 3:00 p.m. in Auckland, 12:00 p.m. in Sydney, 11:00 a.m. in Tokyo, 10:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, and 7:30 a.m. in Mumbai. If this is well-received, we will consider offering more classes in this type of time slot in the future.
A Little Help for Our Friends
Seoul International Christian Academy is seeking senior K, 1st–3rd, 4th–5th teacher for 2011–12. SICA is a classical Christian school located in Seoul, Korea, looking to start September 2011. We will offer senior K–5th grade first year, adding subsequent grades through 12 each year. Candidates who are mature Christians with teaching qualifications are invited to apply. Latin background would be beneficial but not necessary. For more information, please contact Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Latin In-A-Week July 11-15 Joanna Hensley
Interesting Facts about Veritas Press
In June we asked, "From how many countries are people coming to attend the End of Year Gathering for Veritas Press Scholars Academy June 1 – 5 in Lancaster, Pa.?” To break ties for all correct answers, also guess from how many U.S. states people are coming. The winner was Sarah Green, of Oak Harbor, WA, with the correct answer of 9 countries. (The correct answer for the tiebreaker was 37 states; Sarah's guess came closest.)
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